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Stellarton man given 30 months for sexual assault in Bible Hill

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TRURO, N.S. - A Stellarton man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for a sexual assault that occurred in August 2013 during a blues festival in Bible Hill.

Troy Leonard Pennell, 46, of Stellarton was found guilty of the offence in January by provincial court Judge Warren Zimmer.

His sentencing was delayed, however, after his defence lawyer filed a Charter of Rights application that the case be stayed because of the length of time it took for the trial to conclude.

Crown attorney Rick Hartlen subsequently filed an application to have the original application quashed because the delay in court proceedings was primarily caused by the defence or through other factors beyond the Crown’s control.

On Monday, Zimmer determined the net delay in the case was 16 months and 16 days, which is below the 18-month maximum threshold set out by the Supreme Court of Canada for non-jury trials.

Outside the courtroom following the decision, the victim in the case said she was happy with the 30-month sentence.

But the woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, said the length of time it took for the case to conclude has been a trying experience.

“It’s been terrible. I think about it nonstop,” she said. “It just feels like it was carried on too long and it shouldn’t have been. To make somebody go through that for that length of time, it just felt like it was never going to stop.”

But the woman said the sentence does provide “some closure” in allowing her to move forward with her life.

“I mean, it’s always going to be with me but it does help a little to know that justice was served.”

The offence took place on the camping grounds of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition during a Dutch Mason Blues Festival. After drinking and partying with some friends, including Pennell and others associated with him, the woman retired to her tent and went to sleep.

At some point during the early morning hours she awoke with a feeling that something didn’t seen right.

It was later determined that she had been sexually assaulted while she slept and Pennell’s e-cigarette was discovered in her tent, which led to him being named as the prime suspect. He was convicted in large part because of a DNA sample voluntarily provided to the RCMP that matched evidence taken from the victim on a 1-in-4.8 trillion probability that it could not belong to anyone other than Pennell.

During a previous hearing, Pennell apologized to the victim and her family as well as to his own.

"I'm not sure how it happened, I still have no recollection myself, but I do feel terribly bad about the whole thing,” he said, during a hearing in August.

Zimmer told the court on Monday that he did not detect any insincerity in Pennell’s earlier remarks.

In addition to his jail sentence, Pennell must submit a DNA sample to the national bank and his name will be added to the sexual offender registry for 20 years. He is also banned from possessing firearms for 10 years and was issued a $20 victim surcharge fine.

hsullivan@trurodaily.com

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